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Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology from the Domeyko Cassel Collection

December 31, 2008

Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology from the Domeyko Cassel Collection examines an indigenous group barely known outside of South America. Gathering a number of important artifacts and curated Thomas Dillehay, the exhibition catalogue showcases Mapuche silverware, drums, textiles, and masks as means to explore the Mapuche social and religious worldview.
Bringing the Domeyko Cassel Collection to the United States for the first time, the exhibition uses a visual narrative to provoke deeper understanding of the Mapuche, descendents of the Araucanians. The Mapuche are the largest indigenous group in southern South America, known for successfully resisting European intrusion longer than any indigenous society in American history, until the Chilean army defeated them in the mid-1890s. The survival of the Mapuche today is strongly tied to their religion, ancestral knowledge, healing practices, and sacred places. Key to their religious views is the idea of a continuous relationship between ancestors and the living.
The objects reveal the sophisticated cosmology and social organization of the Mapuche from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. More than just static objects of a bygone day, they are the material and artistic representation of the Mapuche conceptions of resistance, public ceremony, gender, shamanism, and their social and historical landscapes.
Thomas Dillehay’s essay is divided into three themes exploring the links between the Mapuche’s traditions and present day life: Empires, resistance, and historic landscapes; late pre-Hispanic times; memorial landscapes; religion and cosmology; symbols, oral traditions and AdMapu; and today’s world. The essay is accompanied by an interview between Jacqueline Domeyko, director of the Colección Domeyko Cassel, and the Visual Arts staff of the Americas Society, which took place in the fall of 2008.